Monday, November 30, 2009

Homemade Blessing

I don't know if I've ever received a homemade gift.  Seriously.  I have been very blessed in my life, and never felt without anything.  Every Christmas and birthday is a happy memory.  My parents worked so hard, and I am grateful.  But they bought the toys and things they gave me, as I have for my children.  And others.  I might have mixed a tape or two in the day, but that's about as "homemade" as I've ever gotten.

Cory said his dad used to make him a lot of toys.  He remembers all of those handmade treasures so well.  And now, his dad made me something too.

I asked for this creche for Christmas.  Well, last year I had suggested it, and my mother in law thought maybe my father in law could make it.  I put it back on my list this year, thinking maybe he would.  He did.  When I got to my inlaws on Thanksgiving, I found what my father in law had put together.  He looked at the measurements of my nativity set, and made it just tall enough.  He didn't want to buy an entire bail of straw, so he scooped up some of what was laying on the ground around the hay bails at Bachmanns.  Don't tell.  Stolen hay in Jesus stable.  Heh. 

Here it is, completed:

It was exactly what I wanted.  No. More than I wanted.  Because he took the time to put this together for me.  It is the perfect gift.  I understand that now, and am grateful.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

When I was a Little Girl...

...all my friends were grown-ups. Shari would go to school and I would go down the street to a number of elderly couples' homes - primarily Ellen and Wally Harris and Paul and Tea Keifer's. My mom said she worried I would never have friends my own age.

And she might have been right for a time. Friends my own age wouldn't feed me treats and let me fill the bird feeder.  And tell me I couldn't drink coffee because I might get a black neck.  I loved those days. 

Years later, I saw Ellen Harris when I was working at the Dairy Queen.  They used to come in Sundays after church for a hamburger. One day when I was bringing them their food, she called me by name.  "Leanne.  Sit down."  So I did. She asked me if I remembered the time I came to borrow something for my mom. My mom evidently gave me strict instruction that I was to come straight home, and to not stay and visit.  Ellen told me that my mom wasn't too happy, though, when I came home with cinnamon roll icing on my face. 

I don't remember that particular incident, but some of my earlies memories are filled with the love of those couples. I can still remember the smell of their homes, and I never see a chickadee when I don't think of Wally. 

I wasn't yet in kindergarten, so I suppose I was Matty's age.  It makes me think how important the memories he's making today are so important.  I hope my boys earliest memories are as happy as mine are!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I need to wrap up my Thankful posts.  Tomorrow we're celebrating the holiday with my husband's family and I am really looking forward to it.  Last year I hosted my WHOLE family (sans Amy's, maybe...?) and it was a zoo.  This year, I get to show up and bring a vegetable.  While I enjoy the chaos, I'm looking forward to a little less of it this year!

I've really enjoyed doing the Thankful statements.  Next year I'll probably just do one week, but it really has been a good exercise to say what I'm thankful for out loud.  There is so much to be said for gratitude.  I am thankful for it, in itself.

1. I'm thankful to be a woman.  To be living in an age and country where women are allowed to be strong and intelligent is one of my greatest blessings.  I told Cory recently that it's too bad for him he didn't know he married a feminist.  In all fairness, I didn't know he married a feminist either.  In the past few years, I have realized more and more how strong I am and how empowered I am by my gender.  I might blog about this again in the future...if I didn't already.

2. I'm thankful for all of you.  All of my friends.  My sisters.  Bits and Pieces.

3.  I am thankful for my children.  All of them.  They are beautiful, intelligent creations of God.  I am overwhelmed at the responsiblity God gave me to raise them, but am honored that He did.  They are a joy.

3.  I am thankful for Jesus Christ, my Lord.  That I am free because of His sacrifice. 

I wish all of you a happy and safe Thanksgiving. 

All my love.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I'm a sucker for pajamas.  Clean, warm children snuggled up in jammies.  But no one does them like Gymboree.  I love their Gymmies.  Our Christmas tradition is that from us, the boys get a pair of jammies and a book from us.  This year, the little ones are getting this pair and this pair.  Gymmies plus firetrucks.  Can't beat it!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Spiritual Series: Part III


The boys are getting older.  In the past month or so, they really play together.  They run around together, play hide and seek, chase, and wrestle.  I love it.  As a consequence of more together time, they also fight more.  They hurt each other physically more.  They need to forgive each other more.

I have a really concrete Forgiveness Plan in this house and it's usually when they make me angry.  It goes like this:

Child:  I'm really sorry, Mommy!
(and somethimes:  I said I'm really sorry, Mommy!)

Me:  I forgive you.

And I force myself to forgive them.  Even when I'm still mad.  Because that's what real forgiveness is.  It's not just words.  And it's hard.  Really hard sometimes.  Matty, the sensitive one, isn't usually okay with just an "I forgive you."  There are frequently requests for smiles to affirm my forgiveness..."Please, Mommy, just smile at me!"...and almost always followed up with hugs and kisses.

This has been an interesting exercise for me.  It's really hard to just stop being mad.  But they have challenged me to dig deep and discover what it really feels like to forgive.  I'm grateful for that.

In the past month, I have also needed forgiveness from a friend.  In converations about something really important to both of us, we both let our emotions get in the way.  We said hurtful things to each other.  And, at the end, when it exploded, we talked it out.  And we forgave each other.  Because it's the right thing to do. Life is too short to make enemies.  To harbor ill will.  Even when we hurt each other and when we're hurt. 

We can't say we believe in forgiveness if we don't practice it, right?

There's a really good book called Amish Grace.  It's about the Amish that forgave the shooter who came into their schoolhouse and shot those children some years ago.  The book affected me deeply.  They were able to forgive a man who killed their children.  I think they're right.  I think we need to forgive even when it's hard.  I pray to God that I never get the opportunity to test how forgiving I really am.  And I pray that if I do, I pass the test!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cole's Mom

The reality is, it's a world where blended families are the norm, and children become the pawn between adults who should know better.  Stepparents love their stepchildren less than their own and as a consequence, the children harbor feelings of inadequacy for life. I have had the pleasure of speaking to adults who grew up in a blended family, and they have been able to shed invaluable light on my situation. 

For those of you who don't know, Cole is my 12 year old stepson.  He had just turned five when I met him, and had his sixth birthday the month of our wedding in 2003.  (So hard to believe now that Matty is creeping up on that age!)

I told Cory shortly after we started dating that I thought it would be best if Cole's mom and I were friends.  I had learned that Kelly was about my age (two months older).  I thought I could be sensitive to her role as I entered the family if I worked hard enough.  I do not know if she thought this was important at that stage in our relationship, but I knew her friendship was something I had to try to have. 

I'm sure it was hard for her.  Cole had asthma as a child and as a consequence, she was very protective of him.  Understandably.  I didn't know him in those days, but I've seen the video of his wheezing while he was just crawling around.  It wasn't until I was a mom myself that I truly appreciated what she had to go through those first few years of his life.  It must have been hard to have me, a stranger, march in and stake a claim on her child.

We had a few bumps, as I recall it, but it didn't take very long.  Kelly came to our wedding, and has been an important part of our lives ever since.  The boys call her "Auntie Kelly" and spend a lot of time with her.  She is Matthew's godmother and loves the boys so much.  I have the unbelievable privilege of knowing that if I'm struggling as a stepmom, she'll have my back.  She's always been wildly supportive of my helping to raise Cole and I do not take that lightly; I know how unusual our healthy relationship is.

I hope she knows how much I value her.  I hope she knows how much it means to me that she has shared Cole with me the past seven and a half years, and how much it means now that she's sharing Vance with us too.  And, most of all, how much I value our friendship.

In this time of Thanksgiving, this was one of the most obvious, and one of the most emotional to write.  I wish the same happiness and love in your family this holiday season and forever.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Retinal Perspectives encouraged me to do this today.  It's a good day for me to dig deep and find happiness around me.  Closing eyes now...sigh...thinking...

My children playing together; my husband playing with my children
Elderly couples holding hands
My children learning; their eyes full of excitement and wonder

Banana bread
The boys just out of a bath
Windows open on a beautiful day
Sauteeing onions

My husband's strong arms around me
My boys' arms around my neck
The strength of my legs when I run
The warmth of my electric blanket

Children laughing
The voices of humanity
The white noise of a fan
"I'll love you forever."
Songs of praise

An icy cold fountain soda
The salty goodness of triscuits
Chocolate and peanut butter. In any combination.
My husband's kiss

Friday, November 13, 2009


This happened inadvertently, but I wanted to make sure to straighten it out.  I have a friend Amy Isaacson.  I also have a sister Amy Isaacson.  In the comments of this post, Amy Isaacson is not my sister.  She is a friend of mine who has similar political leanings.  My sister Amy is smart and caring, but you probably won't find her participating with really strong opinions. She usually signs her comments "Sis Amy."  She no longer has internet at home, so I've been missing her comments for the past couple months.

My apologies for not realizing that would be confusing for some people...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Leftover Turkey Recipe

I took this recipe from a Pillsbury magazine, the kind you buy at the checkout (the photo is theirs as well).  I have had it clipped to the side of my fridge with the other receipes I've been meaning to make it for a long time, and finally got a chance last night. 

I had to leave for a showing before dinner was ready, so as I headed out the door, I kind of shrugged at Cory and said, "It'll be done in 15 minutes. There are frozen pizzas in the freezer if it's no good."  Forty five minutes later, I got this text, "Dinner was a HIT.  There's some left for you, but only a little."  Ah, super.  Blogworthy (and timely - just before leftover-Thanksgiving-turkey season).  Here it is; enjoy!

Wild Rice and Turkey Casserole

1 c cooked white rice
1 c cooked wild rice
2 c diced turkey breast (I used a rotisserie chicken)
2 c shredded mozzerella or montery jack cheese
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1/2 c finely chopped chopped red pepper
1/2 c finely chopped chopped green pepper
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley, if desired.

Heat oven to 350.  Spray two quart baking dish with cooking spray.  In baking dish, mix whit eand wild rice; spread evenly over bottom.

In large bowl, mix turkey or chicken, cheese, milk, bell peppers, eggs, salt and pepper.  Spoon over rice.

Bake 45 - 55 minutes or until knife in center comes out clean and top is lightly browned.  Let stand five minutes before serving.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


My cousin Lesli posted a note in her facebook status that from now until Thanksgiving she's going to say one thing she's grateful for. I think it's a charming idea, so I'm going to play. However, I'm going to use this blog from time to time to talk about my daily status update if I can't fit it in the "what's on your mind" box.

I encourage you to do the same!

Today, I am thankful for Shannon. She is my oldest friend. I think. Pretty close. She is one of my closest friends today. We talk on the phone many nights after the rugrats go to bed. Our conversations are thoughtful and usually lengthy. I feel like I can share anything with her. Interestingly, we have very different views of the world. But I understand why she has her viewpoints; her life is much different than mine.

But mostly I love her because she loves me. No, more than that. She understands me. She gets me. And when she doesn't, she pushes until she does. And I know I drive her crazy. I know our arguments discussions get the best of both of us, but she always forgives me. We have worked through so many disagreements, and shared so many great moments. She's always supportive of me, and shares in my excitements, frustrations, and joys. I pray that I can be as good of a friend to her as she has always been to me.

I saw the photo in my post below on Saturday. Shannon didn't read my blog, but when she drove by it today, she posted in in her status update. Because she said it made her think of me.

That's how well she gets me.

I am grateful.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Love Covers All

I saw this on my way to Cokato today. It felt like a timely message.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


He may or may not have gotten into the halloween makeup today.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Health Care Reform

I have a good friend who is in an unfortunate situation. It involves the health care dilemma in America. She is an example of what many people are going through and I asked her permission to share her story. She said I could.

My friend and her husband have two children. He works two part-time jobs, more hours than a full-time job, but has no access to health insurance through either employer. She was employed for a health care clinic, and they offered health care to her, but not her family. Because my friend has a history of health issues, she of course purchased a plan through her employer for herself. They were working hard to make ends meet.

Six weeks ago, she got injured. She fell and broke her ankle. She had to have surgery to repair it, and it included seven pins and a plate to put it back together. Her husband did the best he could to pick up extra hours to cover the difference, but it's obviously been very difficult. During her medical leave (unpaid), she was laid off. Not only does she now have no prospect for income in the near future, she also lost her health insurance.

The State of Minnesota is currently paying 60% of Cobra for nine months if you lose your job. She and her husband are going to be able to cover the expense of Cobra for those nine months then, but have no idea what they'll do beyond that. She is not yet in good enough health to find another job, and isn't sure when they will be.

Here you have a hard-working family who cannot afford to buy private insurance for themselves. It's not because they're lazy (which seems to be the code word for anyone who would benefit from a government option) or want someone to just hand it to them.

My opinion always has been that we should have a government program, with affordable premiums, available to all Americans so that people like my friend and her family do not have to go without health insurance. I cannot even imagine what would happen if something else happened to any of them!

For those of you who oppose a plan like this, what do you suggest? They are not alone. If you look around, you'll find countless people who do not have access to health insurance through their employer.

I'm just so sad that the proposed plans are weak. That they're really not going to help anyone in this tough time. I'm sad that we're not taking care of each other.

It's been awhile since we talked about this. Anyone up for a discussion? (As always, anonymous comments are not allowed.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Coffee or Tea?

Some people use fancy methods of drawing winners for giveaways. There are some online applications like Not me. Here's my humble drawing.

Step 1:

Step 2:

Rooliegirl! What'll it or tea? Thanks to all for participating!